By Jill Scapelliti
I have around twenty-five dogs and twenty-five cats. I know all their names and love each and every one of them. No, I am not a crazy cat lady (although my husband may disagree) or a dog sledding champ. I am a dedicated volunteer at Almost Home Animal Rescue in Southfield, one of the very few no-kill shelters in Michigan.
I head up to the shelter every week in my oldest shoes and faded clothes, knowing that I am going to put in some elbow-grease time as soon as I walk in the door. It’s not all easy work – but it’s worth every minute. These loving cats and dogs brighten my days more than they will ever know. I clean up "accidents;" I walk dogs on a leash that were most likely never given positive reinforcement; and I socialize with the cats and kittens, knowing that every second of time I spend with them makes worlds of difference as they await their "forever" homes.
Michigan’s economic conditions have not only taken a toll on the human
residents, but on all the pets living here as well. Due to financial
hardships this year, we have seen a decrease in adoptions and an
increase in dog/cat surrenders and abandonments.
Many people aren’t
spaying or neutering their pets and they wind up with litters of
unwanted kittens or puppies. All of these actions lead to
overpopulation in animal shelters nationwide. Almost Home does all it
can to increase our adoptions in lieu of these negative conditions, and
we make it a point to focus solely on the positive things that happen
around us. We have a lot of support in the local community as well as
amazing volunteers who spend countless hours making the lives of our
current residents more comfortable while they await meeting that
Personally, it makes me feel so good and proud to be volunteering at Almost Home. I almost feel like it is a selfish act! I love the feeling that I am making a difference in these animals’ lives. I love every minute that I spend with them! Even when I have a bad day, I look forward to taking a dog like Phoebe (lab mix) on a walk, and know that everything is going to be alright. I believe that there is that special person out there for every pet.; I just know it.
I have seen people come to pick out a cat, and knowingly choose the one who has trust issues with humans and will probably take months to even open up in the new home. I have asked what makes you pick these cats? One couple told me that they wanted to adopt the cat who may not ever be adopted if it weren’t for them. Another told me that they just connected to this cat and felt that it was the right thing to do, that every animal deserves a chance. These cats have very happy lives now and have never been returned to Almost Home (our adoption process outlines that if an animal doesn’t work out in the home, the owner brings back the animal to us).
Almost Home has good days and bad. Good days are when we have plenty of unused cages and new owners bring in their adopted dog to finalize paperwork – and for one final goodbye to the volunteers that brightened their days while at the shelter. It’s amazing what two weeks in foster-to-adopt care will do to an animal. They just look more alive. It’s hard to explain it much better than that. Bad days are when Southfield Police drop off multiple animals that were found outside or in abusive situations. And the cycle continues….caring for the new and existing animals, while adopting out others. We always look forward to tomorrow where anything is possible, when more compassionate people join our team of volunteers or a loving family fills out an application on a deserving animal currently with the shelter.
If you are interested in learning more about Almost Home Animal Rescue, please visit their site. Also, take a few minutes to read an article by Sharon Dargay in The Observer and Eccentric Newspaper about the Almost Home Animal Rescue.